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Hernias can be caused by lifting heavy objects.

Hernias can be caused by lifting heavy objects.
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Hernias

3-minute read

What is a hernia?

A hernia occurs when tissues or organs bulge through a weak point in the wall of the abdomen (belly muscles).

Some hernias are there at birth. Some occur after surgery.

Other times, weaknesses develop in the muscles of the abdomen over time and eventually ‘give out’, causing a hernia.

Types of hernias

There are a number of different types of hernia, including:

  • Hiatus hernia — Part of the stomach pushes up into the chest through the opening in the diaphragm (the layer of muscle separating the stomach from the chest) where the oesophagus (food pipe) passes through.
  • Inguinal hernia — The bowel or other abdominal tissue pushes through the abdominal wall in the groin area. Inguinal hernias are more common in men.
  • Umbilical hernia — The bowel or abdominal tissue pushes through the abdominal wall near the belly button (naval). Umbilical hernias are more common in newborns.
  • Incisional hernia — The bowel or other abdominal tissue pushes through the abdominal wall where it’s been made weak by surgery or trauma.
  • Femoral hernia — The bowel or other abdominal tissue pushes through the abdominal wall near where the leg joins the body. Femoral hernias are more common in women.
  • Epigastric hernias — The abdominal fat pushes through the abdominal wall between the belly button and below the rib cage.

Who is at risk of a hernia?

Hernias are generally more common in people whose abdomens are under more pressure than usual. This includes people who do a lot of heavy lifting, who are obese, pregnant, have a chronic cough, or have chronic constipation.

What should I do if I think I have a hernia?

Hernias may not cause any symptoms, but typical symptoms include:

  • a bulge in the groin or abdomen
  • pain, heaviness or discomfort, especially when coughing, straining or lifting
  • a pulling sensation around the bulge

If your doctor thinks you may have a hernia, he or she will examine you. Your doctor may ask you to cough, strain or stand while pressing on the hernia. You may also be asked to have an ultrasound, computed tomography (CT scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — but scans aren’t necessary for everyone.

Depending on the type of hernia, if it is small, or if it not causing any problems, then you and your doctor may decide to wait and see what happens.

But if the hernia is very large, or if it’s causing pain or getting trapped at times, then surgery will usually be recommended.

And if it’s trapped and can’t be pushed back, and you are in serious pain, you should see a doctor immediately as you could need emergency surgery.

Last reviewed: January 2019

Need more information?

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Top results

Hernia information | myVMC

Hernias occur when an organ or structure passes through an abnormal opening and ends up in the wrong place. Abdominal hernias are the most common type.

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Hiatus hernia: diagnosis and treatment - myDr.com.au

Hiatus hernia is often diagnosed when doctors investigate reflux with an endoscopy or barium X-ray. The hiatus hernia can show up as a bulge positioned between the oesophagus and your stomach.

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Most hiatus hernias don't cause any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, the most common are heartburn and regurgitation of stomach acid into the mouth.

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Hiatus hernia: self-help - myDr.com.au

If you have heartburn or reflux arising from a hiatus hernia, there are a number of self-care measures, such as changes to your diet, that can help ease your symptoms.

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Hernia - Inguinal | Sydney Children's Hospitals Network

An inguinal hernia is the bulging of a portion of an organ or tissue through an abnormal opening in the abdominal wall

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Hernia - Umbilical | Sydney Children's Hospitals Network

An Umbilical hernia is an abnormal bulge that can be seen or felt at the umbilicus (belly button)

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Both reducible and non-reducible hernias need to be surgically repaired - this is a common operation.

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